Spotlight on Canterbury
PUBLISHED: 08:42 21 February 2014 | UPDATED: 08:42 21 February 2014
10 good reasons to visit this fabulous cathedral city
Christ Church cathedral (01227 762862, CT1 2EH) is a working, living church that also hosts concerts and events. Kent’s largest tourist attraction has a Romanesque crypt, cloisters, magnificent tombs, fine medieval stained glass windows and a 12th-century quire. The cathedral forms part of Canterbury’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the remainder made up by St Augustine’s Abbey Gardens and St Martin’s church. Cathedral Lodge (01227 865350) in the grounds, can be booked for B&B accommodation – with a great view.
2 Medieval R&R
Medieval Eastbridge Hospital (01227 471688, CT1 2BD) was built as a resting place for pilgrims visiting St Thomas Becket’s tomb in the cathedral and has a fine undercroft, refectory and two restored chapels. Nearby is Greyfriars 13th-century estate, which houses what is left of Greyfriars Friary of 1267, the first Franciscan settlement in Britain. Greyfriars Chapel (1200s) can be found in the tranquil Fransiscan Gardens.
3 Children’s classics
The inspirational Beaney House of Art and Knowledge (01227 378100, CT1 2RA) has exhibition galleries and a library and its collections include Greek and Egyptian artefacts, Dutch stained glass and fine paintings. Exhibitions running until 16 March include Manet’s The Execution of Maximilian and Political Art and Martyrdom. Canterbury Heritage Museum (01227 475202, CT1 2NR) exhibits include a railway engine, Anglo-Saxon items and special sections devoted to local heroes Rupert Bear and Bagpuss.
4 Chaucer lives on
Canterbury Tales Visitors Attraction (01227 479277, CT1 2TG) opens a window onto Chaucerian Canterbury. Set in the former St Margaret’s church, costumed guides show you the fascinating tableaux and waxworks depicting scenes from Chaucer’s tales, with accompanying medieval sights, sounds and even smells. Summer events to date are: Medieval Fun Day (14 June), outdoor theatre of Shakespeare’s Two Noble Kinsmen (24-26 July) and The Terrible Tales (24-31 October).
5 Marlowe 450
Poet, brawler, spy and Shakespeare’s rival; Christopher Marlowe lived an intriguing and often dangerous life. The Marlowe Theatre (01227 787787, CT1 2AS) - which has been shortlisted to win ‘Regional Theatre of the Year’ by The Stage - is, of course, named after him. He was born in Canterbury in early 1564 so 2014 sees the 450th anniversary of the birth of this world-class theatre’s namesake which, this month, is staging three of his most famous plays (two in The Marlowe Studio, one in the cathedral crypt), plus associated talks. Also being staged in March at the theatre are The Comedy of Errors (4-8), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (5-9), Don Quixote (10), and Evita (24 March-5 April), plus several performances by The Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia.
6 Retail therapy
Whitefriars precinct has all the major high street names, including a flagship Fenwick, while the pedestrianised High Street is packed with shops and cafés. Just off the town centre is the Buttermarket, leading to the King’s Mile, a delightful café-culture district, packed with feelgood shops such as jewellers, antique dealers, boutiques, restaurants, pubs and cafés.
7 Go for a wander
St Augustine’s Abbey (CT1 1PF), set in spacious gardens, exists now as ruins of the AD 598 structure, once the burial place of the Kings of Kent, and there’s a museum and an interactive audio tour. Westgate Gardens (CT1 2BQ) bordering the Stour, has marvellous landscaping and a 200-year-old tree, while in Dane John Gardens (CT1 1YW) you’ll find a bandstand, impressive central fountain, a children’s maze and tearoom.
8 Witches beware
Canterbury Historic River Tours (07790 534744, CT1 2AT) offer a unique way of viewing the city below street level, allowing you to see such sights as the rear of the Dominican Priory and fine views of the cathedral while your boat passes under ancient bridges alongside moorhens and other wildlife. The tour leaves from the quayside in the gardens of the Old Weavers restaurant, where you can see the ancient ducking stool used to flush out witches.
9 Romans underground
The underground Roman Museum (01227 785575, CT1 2JR) shows parts of a Roman house, with its fine mosaic floors, and offers an onscreen tour of the house as it would have been in its prime. There is also a reconstruction of a Roman market town, with excavated artefacts. Look out for the computer-aided ‘touch the past’ area, where you can ‘hold’ Roman objects, as well as an interactive computer game and souvenir shop.
10 Food and drink
For good restaurants, choose from: Deesons Restaurant (01227 767854, CT1 2HX), Michael Caines’ Restaurant (within Abode hotel) (01227 826684, CT1 2RX),
The Goods Shed (01227 459153, CT2 8AN), Kathton House (01227 719999, CT2 0BD). For Italian cuisine: Strada (01227 472089, CT1 2HX) and Olive Grove (01227 764388, CT1 2JB). Fine pubs include: The Millers Arms (01227 456057, CT1 2AW), The Old Buttermarket (01227 462170, CT1 2HW) and The Lady Luck (01227 763298, CT1 2BQ). See also newcomer The Shakespeare Wine & Coffee House reviewed on page 71. n